Meet Alice and Lola, who are here to explain in great depth and all seriousness my theology and ministerial philosophy as pastor of the altogether splendid West Bloomfield (N.Y.) United Church of Christ.
Guinea pigs are sweet, unassuming critters who have a preposterous way of showing delight: they popcorn. When they are really happy, they will repeatedly, spontaneously hop and turn. Watching a guinea pig popcorn is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
Here. Watch this YouTube video of someone else’s guinea pig popcorning. Keep your eye on the little one:
Now THAT’S fun to watch! Keepers of guinea pigs get an instant reward for pleasing their pets. And what pleases Lola and Alice most?
Fresh dandelion greens.
And so, the noxious weed I have done all in my power to eradicate from my yard for decades has suddenly become a prized find. In fact, I have caught myself weeding grass out from around dandelions to ensure my guinea pigs would have a fresh supply. The once Round-Up deserving usurpers of my pure and holy lawn are suddenly a welcomed and honored guest.
Of course the local rabbits knew the value of dandelions long before I did. I imagine they sat in the bramble shaking their heads at how I used to poison, rip up, curse and fling away one of their favorite food sources, leaving them no choice but to decimate my much less flavorful garden lettuce instead.
I wonder what else in my life I have erroneously deemed useless only to stunt blessings and complicate matters. Who have I poisoned? What have I ripped up, cursed and flung away from me that might have proved valuable, even blessed to me or someone near me if not for my arrogant, ignorant prejudice?
We don’t weed out our faith community for this very reason. There’s a lot to be said for attracting and keeping all kinds of yahoos and misfits. Immediately, it makes for more varied and confounding coffee hour conversation. Even more, broader minds and wider viewpoints can help us to recognize good in what we too readily discount or disregard. An invitation to our church is an opportunity to fraternize with folks you’d otherwise probably not get to know, which, of course, is an opportunity to a life of greater depth, breadth, wisdom, and blessing. Consider yourself invited.
In the 4th chapter of Philippians Paul urges us to rejoice always in our faith, to show gentleness to everyone, to lay our worries down and let the peace of God rule our hearts and minds. He goes on to suggest we should seek to discern what is true, honorable, pure, pleasing, commendable excellent and praise-worthy in all around us. Since this directive falls within Paul’s discussion of healing rifts between people, he is not suggesting we winnow out all that is imperfect. Rather, he is asserting a vein of Godliness might just run through us all if we’d only see “inconvenient” or “inconsequential” others (and ourselves) with new eyes.
This is what we strive to do at our church. It doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it’s freaky. But, hey, we’re more frontier than fortress.
And that, my friends, is Weed Theology.